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Using the Talking Mats app with someone with aphasia

During the final stages of developing Digital Talking Mats, we invited some people with aphasia and their partners to come and try it out for us. I spent some time talking to Matthew, who has severe global aphasia and dyspraxia. Matthew loves having a chat, but relaxed conversation can be a challenge because Matthew finds it difficult to generate language and sometimes his yes/no responses get mixed up. I used the ‘activities’ topic with Matthew to have a chat about the things he likes (and doesn’t like) doing. Matthew found the Digital Talking Mats easy to use and quickly gave me his views about activities. Using the i-pad made the conversation feel very natural, and Matthew was able to convey his sense of humour – when I asked him about Church; Matthew started to sing the Funeral March! We had quite a laugh about this, and it turned out that at the moment, Matthew really only goes to Church when there is a funeral. Matthew was also able to tell me about things that he finds difficult since his stroke, such as reading and doing DIY. During our conversation, I was struck by how equal the conversation felt. Matthew was able to express his views without feeling pressurised to think of words. I was able to ask Matthew open questions without worrying that I might not understand his responses. Using Talking Mats on the i-pad was easy and relaxed. I could imagine using it with Matthew to have a chat over coffee or at the pub. Perhaps we should think of some conversational symbol sets?

To see Matthew using the app, click here